Hailing from Singapore, Hatten Group Managing Director Colin Tan is a born entrepreneur and business tycoon.
“Property runs in my blood. Our family has always been in the businesses of property development and real estate,” he says.
“From an early age, my father, Eric Tan, used to bring my brother Edwin and I into meetings to observe how he ran his business, to learn the ropes and to gain an early insight into the industry.”
“I became fascinated by watching projects being built from the ground up and the impact these developments have on people’s lives.”
“It’s about creating and realising dreams for the benefit of individuals as well as the larger community.”
After starting his career as business development manager of Lianbang Ventures, Colin joined forces with Edwin to found leading property conglomerate Hatten Group, kicking off the venture with a career move he’s now famous for.
The value of foresight
Together, the brothers boldly took on an abandoned building site in the heart of Melaka and transformed it into Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall, the largest and most profitable retail empire in the state, covering more than two million square feet.
“Melaka was a sleepy historical town, but we foresaw it blooming into a high-potential location because of its important national relics and strategic position along the Melaka Straits, with a history as a major maritime port on the ancient Silk Route,” Colin explains.
Hatten Group was ranked among The Top 10 Developers 2017, voted as one of the ‘Best Companies to Work for in Asia’ 2016.
“We faced many critics at the start, but our foresight proved right. Now, Melaka has emerged as an investment hotspot and a UNESCO World Heritage City.”
“It also showed great potential in terms of population, within a 200-kilometre radius of Melaka are 15 million people throughout Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.”
“Melaka has emerged as an investment hotspot and a UNESCO World Heritage City.”
Thirteen years on, Hatten Group’s developments now include the largest hotel in Melaka, Hatten Hotel, with 704 deluxe suites; Hatten City, a 25-acre integrated mixed development valued at more than RM2 billion; and Harbour City, which brings together a theme park, shopping mall and three hotels in a tropical-themed location.
“Hatten was built on innovation: it is the defining point of each project. We have always been pioneers of iconic design, introducing large-scale projects into small-town Melaka.”
“In the beginning, we encountered many critics and naysayers but we held onto our vision – because it was based on extensive market research and gut instinct.”
“And now, here we are, at the forefront of Melaka’s ascent as one of Malaysia’s top investment hotspots,” he says proudly.
“Our projects have won more than 50 international property awards for architecture, concept and design.”
“We were also the first to bring international brands to Melaka such as H&M, Victoria’s Secret and Melaka’s first Hilton Hotel – DoubleTree by Hilton, Melaka.”
At just 35 years old, Colin is responsible for the overall management and strategic direction of Hatten Group and its extensive development portfolio of more than 215 acres.
He also oversees sales and marketing, asset and land acquisition, business development, and construction. But the property industry now is not the stable one he used to know.
Competition and the power of globalisation
“It used to be a more relaxed market with less competition and units were easier to sell.
Now, it’s saturated with competitors and continuous new project launches. Globalisation has allowed people to have the option of buying properties in other countries as well,” he says.
“Adding to that is the availability of more public investment avenues and financial instruments such as stocks and bonds. It is a tough market to succeed in.”
Colin is not afraid to admit that he used to be motivated by money – eagerly wanting to create a billion-dollar portfolio so he could sit back and watch it grow. But after business started booming, he found a purpose greater than money.
As a community-centric corporation, Hatten Group was proud to receive the prestigious Hoffen Award from the SME One Asia Awards for its efforts in CSR, health and environmental awareness, and community outreach.
“I’m motivated and inspired by my family, the community and Hatten’s stakeholders."
"I started Hatten with my father and brother: it is now a family heirloom and we are committed to growing the company and ensuring the future success of the brand,” he says.
“In the same way, we treat the community and our stakeholders as part of the family and we want to continue adding value, boosting economies and generating high revenues so that we can share every reward with them,” Colin explains.
Success is not a destination, it’s a process
“For me, success is not a destination, it’s a process. If you pursue your goals with a sense of integrity, passion and satisfaction, and you’re ultimately contributing to the wellbeing of your fellow man – then you’re on the right track.”
“I started Hatten with my father and brother: it’s become a family heirloom.”
Colin has built his team to operate with the values of mutual respect, integrity and gratitude.
“We look out for each other, help each other through difficult times and strive to achieve the best for the Group.”
“We trust the company, work towards its success and are thankful for the opportunities and growth,” he explains.
“In return, we host regular team-building activities, company trips, and annual gatherings, and we have an open-door policy.”
“I believe that talent should be nurtured, that’s why training and re-training is an important element of our HR programs. When everyone is working at their best, the company will grow.”
Although the Malaysian market is highly saturated, Colin says Hatten’s reputation for innovation is what keeps investors coming back for more.
“In just 13 years, we have gained the trust of many stakeholders with our visionary products, business integrity and genuine customer care.”
“We build strong relationships with these companies no matter if they’re big or small, national or global.”
Colin is one of the youngest executives to have won multiple awards in his industry.
- Malaysia Book of Records – Business Edition as one of 2017’s ‘Top Young Entrepreneurs'
- ‘Top CEO of the Year 2017’ – Influential Brands Awards
- ‘Most Aspiring Personality’ – Property Insight Prestigious Developer Awards 2016
“Each connection is a valuable asset to Hatten in our goal of becoming a worldwide household name in property.”
Colin explains that he chose the name ‘Hatten’ for its Japanese translation meaning growth and development – and he plans to live up to that name.
Colin says this is just the beginning. “By 2020, we aim to build, own and manage five million square feet of net lettable area for retail, as well as 5,000 hotel rooms and 5,000 residential units in Malaysia alone.
“Our long-term goal is to be ranked among the leading conglomerates in South East Asia, not just in property development, but in hospitality, asset management, macro-investment, arts and culture, health and wellness,” he explains.
“While our projects continue to mushroom across Malaysia, we are already mobilising strategies to venture into Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.”
It comes as no surprise then that Colin’s favourite quote is, “Nothing is impossible. Even the word itself says, ‘I’m possible’.” – Audrey Hepburn.